Amazon Publishing is breaking into non-fiction in the UK through imprint Little A.
The retailer's publishing arm has been “keen to explore quality non-fiction from UK authors for some time”, according to editorial director Laura Deacon, and is calling on agents to submit a broad range of titles ranging from history, science, lifestyle and popular culture. Agents The Bookseller spoke to have greeted the news with enthusiasm.
Amazon Publishing currently publishes fiction under four imprints in the UK: Thomas & Mercer, Lake Union Publishing, Montlake Romance and 47 North. In the US, Little A publishes literary fiction and non-fiction, but in the UK it will currently just focus on non-fiction.
“For the past year or so, we have kept our ears to the ground and worked hard to bring exciting, original non-fiction to the list,” Deacon said. “We are looking for thought-provoking, progressive content. Subjects range from memoir and biography to history, science, lifestyle and general popular culture. We’re seeking UK authors who are unafraid to challenge the status quo, and who can find the narrative in the everyday. We have some brilliant books lined up and will be announcing our first UK non-fiction acquisitions soon.”
Eoin Purcell, head of Amazon Publishing UK, said that “growing the UK division of Amazon Publishing is something we are really happy to do. Authors are at the heart of our business and we can do the same for non-fiction just as effectively as we now do for fiction. There have already been some really promising submissions from agents and we look forward to seeing many more”.
Dominic Myers, director of Amazon Publishing EU, added: “We’re delighted to have helped our fiction authors to be successful in both the UK and globally, and we’re now excited to bring our first UK non-fiction authors to UK and global readers.”
Literary agent Robert Caskie, of Caskie Mushens, welcomed the news. “I think it is brilliant that Amazon is doing this,” he told The Bookseller. “It can only expand the readership of all types of non-fiction and means there are more possibilities for all writers to be published.
“It will bring a different type of readership to the e-book. At the moment it is seen as genre fiction. It is about servicing the readers’ needs and how people read in lots of different ways. And lots of readers of non-fiction listen on audio so it will fit in seamlessly with that, in terms of how Audible picks up from where you have been reading in e-book.”
He suggested the news could encourage other publishers to up their game in non-fiction publishing.
“It will be interesting to see how this works – how they market and sell books,” he said. “It is a chance for other publishers to look at how they publish non-fiction as well.”
However Caskie questioned whether Amazon would still be looking to acquire world English rights, as it does with fiction, and whether this would mean all the non-fiction titles would have to be relevant to America as well as Britain.
Fellow agent Piers Blofeld, of Sheil Land Associates, was more cautious about the announcement. He said: “While I am always pleased to see publishers branching into new types of publishing I am not sure successfully it will work given non-fiction has not traditionally been a strong category in e-book. Of course it is always hard to know with Amazon because they share such little data.
However, he believes there are “undoubtedly types of narrative non-fiction it will work with, and some of the popular areas such as Call The Midwife could work very well”.
Amazon Publishing's print sales through Nielsen Bookscan have risen in value year-on-year every year since 2009, when it made £832. In 2017, Amazon Publishing titles pulled in £624,440, representing 74,952% jump in eight years. Adult Fiction accounted for £531,056 of that figure last year, comprising 85% of the total.